Several local Democratic Party candidates for the state house joined members of the Communications Workers of America in presenting a petition to the management of Eyemart Express regarding the unionizing of their employees.
Matthew Goings, Legislative Coordinator for CWA 6312, told OI that the employee behind the action, Justin McVicker, was not in attendance at the delivery of the notification because he was “in fear” for his job and of retaliation.
“There’s eight employees there,” Goings told OI. “There are five managers and the CEO is supposed to be here later today.”
Goings said that McVickers has been in the industry for 13 years and so has tremendous experience in his career field.
“My co-workers and I want the right to make a decision to join the union without retaliation, threats of store closure and excessive surveillance from Eyemart Express,” McVicker’s statement read. “We’re working full-time during a pandemic but making poverty wages. All we are asking for is the dignity and respect of a living wage.”
According to Goings, McVicker is making $12 per hour while working for Eyemart Express. According to the website payscale.com, the average hourly pay for an optical laboratory technician is $13.58 per hour. The website stated that of the employers surveyed, Eyemart Express paid the lowest on average, however other firms like LensCrafters and Visionworks also paid around the level that McVicker is making at Eyemart Express.
Several local Democratic party candidates for the state house including Cindy Slimp and Dave Gragg were there showing support.
“Working people were doing the best in this country for decades when the unions were strongest,” Derrick Nowlin, candidate for the 134th District, told OI. “Unions have been in decline since the 80s and we’re at record low union enrollment now. And I feel like workers overall are treated poorly and taken advantage of compared to when union membership is high.”
Nowlin also said there’s a benefit to employers from union employees.
“You get a guaranteed level of professionalism and proficiency,” Nowlin said. “You get a guaranteed standard of work.”
District 135 House candidate Betsy Fogle told OI she was just there to show the workers support.
“We’re here today to show our support for the employees of Eyemart,” Fogle said. “Today the mic doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the eight people in there who are working day in and day out to provide healthcare to people like me.”
Jason Shanks, the General Counsel for Eyemart Express, called OI Tuesday night and said that because it’s an internal employee manner, they would be unable to comment on today’s situation.